What is a tool in the context of biological evolution? I am interested in the various ways in which tools have transformed throughout history. In contrast to all of the man-made technological tools that surround us today, I began to think about our original biological tools, and how they were formed. For instance, our eyes are such crucial tools; the formation of the lens in the eye aided so immensely in our evolution into a complex, dominant species, allowing us to focus on food and predators. While our primitive ancestors relied on these kinds of biological advances to survive, it is interesting how much we rely on our technological tools in contemporary society, and how they are aiding in our advancement, particularly in the field of medicine and science.
We design our tools in response to biological functions or systems in nature. My interest in this biomimicry led me to produce a series of collages titled Natural vs. Synthetic, which reflect on the relationship between natural and synthetic materials. One example of biomimicry that inspired the exploration of this relationship is the human eye and the camera; when comparing the tissue and cells of our eyeball, and the plastic frame of a camera, I find it fascinating that our man-made camera lens can carry out essentially the same function, focusing and capturing images, as our natural organ. The creation of the collages was a way for me to exclusively explore these contrasting materials. There are eight collages total, which are displayed, grouped together, on the wall. The finished works are non-representational objects which are constructed from a variety of materials: synthetic materials such as polyvinyl acetate, or PVA (an adhesive commonly used in bookbinding), plastic mylar, synthetic cosmetic hair and eyelashes, Tyvek, rubber cement, a latex surface used as faux skin for practicing tattoo artists, as well as natural materials like vellum (calf skin), human hair, horse hair, claws, bones, and leather.
The collages invite the viewer to reflect on the relationship between these opposing materials, how they interact with each other, and how the organic tools of our body interact with the synthetic materials with which we surround ourselves.
PVA glue, cat claws, vellum, human hair, artificial eyelashes
PVA glue, horse hair, vellum, human hair, synthetic hair, and leather
Time / Evolution
My interest in evolution is rooted in the scientific discoveries that support it; I find our ability to look at natural remains and decipher information about the concealed past fascinating.
The accumulation of time molds and shapes, allowing for the evolution of the simple into complex. Our world that at one time was solely inhabited by single-celled organisms is now teeming with mammals; a computer that used to take up an entire room now fits comfortably in the palm of a hand.
I am fascinated by wondrous examples of evolution found in nature. For example, the spider-tailed viper (Pseudocerastes urarachnoides), whose tail lure is elaborately designed to mimic the movement and characteristics of a spider in order to attract its prey, or the fact that in the embryonic stage of marsupials, an eggshell temporarily develops and then dissolves, a genetic trait passed on from ancestors.
Part of this work references biological vestigiality, for example, rudimentary hind limb bones that remain part of a whale’s skeletal structure today, though their legs dissolved millions of years ago. Or for instance, species of cave fish that no longer have use for their eyes. Although these creatures still develop an eyeball, their eyesight is completely useless due to their pitch-black environment. Over time, evolution has added a thick layer of protective skin over the organ, but the eyes still remain, a vestige from their past exposure to daylight. Vestigial organs or behaviors are traces of the past; through evolution, biological vestiges have lost all, or the majority of their original function. These useless traits that remain are evidence of evolution, and suggest physical transformation that has occurred over time. Living organisms contain the past, carrying it around with them—a reminder of their preceding forms.
While I am curious about the comprehensive transformation of species, when considering human evolution I cannot help but reflect on our current state of existence, positioned within the rapidly-changing digital age. While the natural world slowly shifts in order to progress, making slight adjustments over millions of years, the advancements made in digital technology seem to occur on a daily basis, causing the life-span of our gadgets to be incredibly short. Consequently, in my work I consider the relationship between natural history and our technology. Just as excavated bones carry details of the past, our primitive technology, such as an 8mm camera or the straight-key device used for electronic telegraphs, provides comparable information, allowing us to understand how previous generations interacted with each other and their surroundings.
2014, various sewings, dyed and printed paper, approximately 3.5ft x 2in
Time's Line Envelops All
2013, rock and thread
2014, coptic bound book and PVA on plaster, approximately 11ft x 20in-2in
2014, six units, screen print on PVA glue, thread, bone, teeth, eggshells, artificial fish eyes, each approximately 4in x 3in
2014, screen print on PVA glue, 8mm film, twine approximately 3.5ft x 5ft
2014, leather and hemp cords, thread, dye, artificial eyelashes, each approximately 3in x .25in
Sorting Algorithms (left), Life Emerging (right)
2014, 16mm film and iPhone video
Reptiles to Birds
This work was inspired by the evolutionary transition of reptiles to birds…from scales to feathers, cold blood to warm.
I am interested in physical connections that link the present with a past time—evidence of origin, and clues of a previous existence. For example, the rare mutation that occurs in chickens which enable them to produce teeth. Because the modern day bird emerged from a reptilian evolutionary line, when this mutation occurs, in embryonic stages, the formation of the teeth on the chick look strikingly similar to the development of teeth in reptiles. Obviously birds do not normally grow teeth, but in the occurrence of this mutation, the disabled gene has randomly been switched back on. Passed on from their reptilian ancestors, this trait is a genetic vestige, a reminder of their past.
Rib Cage, Cold and Warm
2013, glue, snake ribs, bird ribs, 8in x 12in
2013, drypoint on glue, 7 prints layered between plexiglass, 18in x 22in
The Hidden Gene That Lingers In Birds
2013, glue, acrylic paint, alligator teeth, thread, each approximately 4in x 3in
Remnants Remain, Bound to a Particular Point
2013, paper cast of alligator leg bone and bird leg bone, thread, 16in x 20in (each)
Cold Blood Slithered, Until it Flew Warm
2013, glue, chicken spine, thread, rattlesnake rattle, approximately 12in x 12in
Bookbinding, Tools, Papers
A "Fairly" Simple Leather Spine Binding
German Case Binding
Secret Belgian Binding
Long Stitch on Cloth / Wooden Boards
Sewn on Tapes Laced into Cover (Tyvek)
Chinese Sewing Box
Paste Papered Starbucks Cup...
just for fun
Fear / Perception of Reality
Introducing THE HORRIFIC FLYING SPIDER and the ALL TOO TERRIFYING MAN-EATER!
2013, woodcut on silk with ink and rice paper, 8ft x 4ft
The Things That Live Inside
2013, screen print on wood with collage elements, and jewelry boxes with etchings, collaged paper, styrofoam, thread, claws, insects (and more)
Monstrous Creature: May be Found in Murky Water, Dark Alleyways
2012, reduction woodcut, 12in x 13in
2012, altered book, inkjet print with letterpress, 4in x 5in
Darwin For President
2012, offset lithography flipbook, perfect bound
Darwin For President
2013, stuffed and sewn cyanotype, vandyke brown, and gum bichromate prints
Dream Books: Nightmare Scares, Real pretend Places I’ve Been, & Things That Aren’t What They Seem (left to right)
2010, screen printed etchings, drum-leaf bound, 3.5in x 4.5in
The Rope That Would Lead Me To The Rats
2010, etching, mezzotint, handmade paper, 28in x 25in
One Minute and Thirty Seconds of Magic
2010, etching, dry point, handmade paper, 28in x 25in
Only a Suit
2010, etching, dry point, screen print, handmade paper, 28in x 25in
Suits Looking Down at a Newcomer
2011, Drypoint, mezzotint, screen print, 14in x 11in
The End of the World
2012, screen print and letterpress, 7in x 10in
What's Not Mine Is Yours
2010, etching and screen print, 11in x 14in
2011, projected drawing on handmade paper, 6ft x 5ft
2011, woodcuts on handmade paper, 2ft x 3ft each
Transforming Man No. 3: The Killer, the Cows, and the Poison Cliff
2011, video installation
2012, drawing projected on handmade paper with slide projector (78 drawings total), 6ft x 5ft